We believe that the mission of the church, to welcome all to experience the transforming love of God through worship, arts, and the pursuit of social justice at St. Mark’s is expressed in the form of our building and grounds: by our yards as a sanctuary in the context of an urban landscape, by a soaring steeple reaching to the heavens from the streets of the East Village, and by our expansive yet intimate interior that invokes the sacred among us.
Our congregation has a primary commitment to ‘radical welcome’ understood in The Episcopal Church as welcoming those who have been alienated by the church in the past. That welcome means that we are a diverse group brought together by our approach to worship and social justice. St. Mark’s understands creating accessibility to the Sanctuary as central to our mission and identity as a church, as it relates to equal access to our sacramental life for those who use wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, and canes on their own terms in preservation of their dignity as children of God.
Our goal is to create a beautiful, low profile, permanent, and truly accessible entrance through the center gate and through the center doors of the church that proclaims our message of welcome, in the words of St. Francis – without words. Our proposal is almost, if not completely, invisible from the street, uses fine materials that complement and match current materials, does not upset other architectural or historical elements, and is the lowest impact plan possible.
In the development of our proposal, we took significant guidance from The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery is the oldest site of continuous worship in New York. It was built on the site of the chapel on Peter Stuyvesant’s bowery (farm) and has undergone a number of architectural changes and additions to suit tastes of the changing times since the original Georgian fieldstone structure was erected. We believe that what we propose today is not subject to the whims of style or taste but justice and inclusiveness, retaining the integrity of the current building.
As members of St. Mark’s Church and its Arts Projects, we love this building. We tend to it as volunteers and give of our time, money, and labor to maintain and improve the site. From our own archives we see that the church has regularly fallen into disrepair and gone through periods of extensive renovation and renewal over the years as fashion and need have changed. We understand ourselves to be stewards of this site for this time, and it is a humbling task.
St. Mark’s secured a loan for $175,000 from The Diocese of New York to build our accessibility ramp. However, to accomplish our goals additional funds are needed. To track the progress of our fundraising and for opportunities to donate, please visit our main Ramp It Up! page.